WCC: To Be a Black, Female, “Special Negro”

I have been called a “special negro” since elementary school. It started when my love of math turned into a game of wits for older kids who were not so good at it. My diction, my unintentional word choice – from hours and hours of reading the Encyclopedia Britannica (yes, I predate Google), and my overall poise made folks think I thought I was “all that.” They told me I thought I was better than them. While it wasn’t true, it still resulted in the name-calling and the isolation many geeky black nerds (glerds) experience in circles where mainstream ideals are pervasive and normalized. I still get the occasional “special negro” insult. I have to ask though: Isn’t it about time we retire that term and find more effective ways to empower ourselves?

If you have never heard the term “special negro” before, count your blessings. It originated as the “house nigga” in slave days. It later evolved into “uppity negro” in the twentieth century. And while terms like “bourgie”, “uppity”, and “high saddity” still prevail, it is the “special negro” moniker that is the most dubious. The special negro is the token black person. He or she is the individual that white people are talking about when they mention their one black friend. Being tokened has an equal and opposite effect. To whatever degree one is accepted by whites, one will be equally rejected by blacks – or so it seems.

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